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News Release

Date: June 3, 2005
Media Contact: Elizabeth Homan, 301-251-7970; Steve Simon, 301-251-7952

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Famous People from History Come Alive at Montgomery College Chautauqua
Four-day Event, July 5-8, at MC-Germantown Features Photojournalist Bourke-White, Novelist Orwell, Tuskegee Airman Davis, and President Lincoln

PHOTO EDITORS - high-resolution images to accompany this story:



The voices of famous figures from America’s history will be heard once again at Montgomery College’s annual Chautauqua, July 5-8.  This family-friendly event weaves together music, theatre, and history to create educational entertainment.  The Chautauqua series of programs, themed this year as “War and Democracy: Personal Journeys,” will take place at 7 p.m., underneath an outdoor tent on the College’s Germantown Campus, 20200 Observation Drive, Germantown, Md.  In case of rain, the performances will be moved inside to Globe Hall, located within the campus’s High Technology and Science Center.  All performances are free and open to the public.


Each Chautauqua program will begin with a short concert performed by a local musician.  Next, an actor-scholar will take the stage to portray a historical figure—photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White, novelist George Orwell, Tuskegee Airman Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., or President Abraham Lincoln—who had their ideas about democracy shaped by their experiences in war.  The actor-scholars modify their clothing, hair, and speech to give audiences the illusion that they are listening to the actual historical figure during their time.  


Margaret Bourke-White was one of four photographers on the original staff of Life magazine.  She is well known for her wartime photography, including photos from World War II combat zones and Nazi death camps.  George Orwell was the pen name for English author Eric Arthur Blair, who wrote essays, documentaries, and novels.  He is most famous for his two satires that attack totalitarianism, “Animal Farm” and “1984.”  Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. was the son of the United States Army’s first African American general.  He graduated from West Point at the head of his 1936 class and went on to command the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black pilot unit, during World War II.  President Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as the 16th President of the United States in March 1961.  More than a month later, shots rang out at Ft. Sumter and the Civil War began.


The Chautauqua movement began in the late 1800’s as a training program for Sunday school teachers.  Taking its name from a lake in upstate New York, the Chautauqua quickly expanded and became known for educating adults in the arts and humanities.  At the turn-of-the-century, Chautauqua lecturers and entertainers traveled across the country, bringing their style of education to small towns.  When Americans increasingly replaced live entertainment with television and movies, the Chautauqua movement dwindled.


During the 1970’s, the dying form of entertainment got a new breath of life.  The Chautauqua re-invented itself as a public humanities program.  Through these dialogues, scholars take on the persona of a historical figure to educate and entertain audiences of all ages.


The Montgomery College Chautauqua 2005 program schedule is as follows:

  • Tuesday, July 5, 7 p.m.
    Music by Loralyn Coles
    An Evening with Margaret Bourke-White, by Doris Dwyer
  • Wednesday, July 6, 7 p.m.
    Musical performer to be announced
    An Evening with George Orwell, by John C. (Chuck) Chalberg
  • Thursday, July 7, 7 p.m.
    Music by “BanjerDan” Mazer
    An Evening with Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., by J. Holmes Armstead, Jr.
  • Friday, July 8, 7 p.m.
    Music by Mary Sue Twohy
    An Evening with Abraham Lincoln, by Jim Getty

Montgomery College is one of six colleges around the state of Maryland that host the annual Chautauqua programs each summer.  Chautauqua 2005 is sponsored by the Maryland Humanities Council, with support from Lockheed Martin, Columbia Gas of Maryland, The NiSource Charitable Foundation, WYPR, The National Endowment for the Humanities’ “We the People” initiative, and the Maryland Division of Historical and Cultural Programs. 


All sites are accessible for persons with disabilities. If sign language interpretation is needed, call 410-685-0095 by June 21. For a complimentary reader, with a history, bibliographies, and timeline on each character, call the Maryland Humanities Council at 410-685-0095.  For more information on the Montgomery College Chautauqua, call 301-353-7746 or visit

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Montgomery College is a public, open admissions community college with campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park, plus workforce development/continuing education centers and off-site programs throughout Montgomery County, Md.  The College serves nearly 50,000 students a year, through both credit and noncredit programs, in more than 100 areas of study.

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